West Texas Leaders Respond to Tom Craddick's Empty Speaker Seat

By: Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

Craddick served 3 terms as House speaker, and now that he's out, what will it mean for West Texas?

NewsWest 9 had the opportunity to speak with District 81 Representative Tryon Lewis, as well as Midland Mayor Wes Perry. Both say, Tom Craddick will be missed. 

Having a West Texan in such a powerful position made it easier for lawmakers to bring our issues in the Basin to the front of the table. 

But now that Craddick has stepped out of the race, local leaders say it means Representatives from our area will have a harder time getting their projects accomplished.

"It's just going to be a lot harder to be effective than if Tom were the speaker," Tryon Lewis (R) District 81 Rep., said. "That's just the fact of the matter. There will be some things that will not get done."

Representative Tryon Lewis says, minus Craddick, West Texas won't get as much attention in Austin.

"To have a speaker from this area has meant that our voice gets fully heard," Lewis said. "We don't get forgotten out here. Our needs and concerns are put to the forefront because we have someone from here who can voice those concerns."

Lewis tells us despite all the controversy surrounding Tom Craddick, he's never lost respect in the House.

"Certainly that was in evidence at this meeting last night is the absolute respect and affection that representatives from all over Texas and all walks of life have for Tom Craddick," he said.

Craddick supporters met last night to see if they could block San Antonio Republican Joe Straus who claims he has 85 supporters, enough votes to be the next speaker. Lewis says if Straus wins, that could mean a booming voice for the Democratic Party in Austin.

"It's a shift to the left without any doubt," Lewis said. "Its just a matter of how far."

However, if veteran Representative John Smithey from Amarillo takes the lead, he may have a similar effect in raising the voices from rural Texas communities.

"Our job is going to be to work hard on the projects we have and to convince the other Representatives of the need for them," Lewis said.

Midland Mayor Wes Perry says he'll miss Craddick in the role as Speaker, but believes he'll still have a huge impact representing the Tall City.

"You get up early and you roll up your sleeves and go to bed late and work hard," Lewis said. 

In a statement released from the Speaker's Office, Tom Craddick says he'll still be serving as the District 82 Representative and is committed to making sure West Texans continue to have a strong voice in the Texas House. 

House Representatives will cast their votes in the Speaker of the House race on January 13th.